2017 Fuso Canter FG4x4 Expedition Camper Project

samurai driver

New member
Hi all,

I figure it is time for me to come out of the closet with the new to me Canter FG4X4. I flew out to Colorado Springs and pick up this baby about a month ago, and drove it straight home to the Pacific Northwest non-stop. It is virtually new with most of the heavy liftings of the expedition skeleton and conversion done. However the habitat box is untouched, as with the addon lights and winch. It is essentially a blank canvas for my design and construction to make it into what I envision.

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stopped at Costco in Loveland to pick up wiper blades and food for the long trip home

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we ran into early winter snow storm in Wyoming with semi's crashing left and right but we made it back unscathed, except the check engine light scare

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stopped by a WDOT to find out the axle weights for baseline record

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back at the ranch in PNW

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big truck and little truck
 

Czechsix

Watching you from a ridge
Nice, hope it works out well for you.

Check engine light, eh? Yeah...I'm familiar with FUSO CEL. Nothing like the old instrument cluster Christmas tree going off.
 

samurai driver

New member
While so far I only have been doing the design in the head while examining many difficult constraints, I compiled a long requirement list:

  • diesel hydronic heat augmented by engine coolant heat via heat exchanger
  • hot water heated by the diesel hydronic heater via a calorifier
  • minimum of 10 gallons of propane for cooking and on demand hot water heater
  • a well equipped kitchen with generous work surface
  • sensibly sized stainless steel kitchen sink with European faucet
  • custom solid surface countertop with milled in drainboard
  • two or three hobs cooker with oven - built in broiler desired
  • extractor vent above the propane hobs
  • no microwave oven
  • storage with generous cookware and serving ware
  • wine storage capacity of 2 cases
  • Japanese compact on demand water boiler for kitchen sink and may be shower
  • 22" deep kitchen counter top above cabinet with generous storage
  • largest marine grade 12V compressor based refrigerator with separate freezer
  • additional 12V compressor chest freezer
  • 75 to 100 gallons of fresh water in heated space by way of a primary and an auxiliary tanks
  • water filtration system with UV sanitation (wish list only) between two tanks
  • DC water pump for drawing from stream - wish list only
  • 40 to 50 gallons of grey water storage may not be in heated space with remote control drain valve
  • no black water tank
  • cassette toilet or urine separating toilet (leaning towards the latter)
  • full bed with firm mattress with Froli bed spring system
  • tilted bed board for comfortable reading or computing
  • maximum overhead storage cabinet
  • maximum storage cabinets and drawers
  • cabinetry to be built with plywood by me
  • indirect LED lighting plus task lights
  • toilet with sink and with hydronic radiator/towel warmer
  • compact retractable laundry drying lines in toilet
  • shower located at entry of the habitat box - preferable with Japanese on-demand hot water heater and European fixture, and teak floor grate
  • mosquito screen at habitat entrance
  • 120Vac 9000 BTU inverter mini split heat pump/air conditioner
  • Korean mini clothes washer/dryer
  • 800W minimum solar panels with lithium battery system
  • power inversion system located in relatively good access for service and monitoring, but without overkilled design, complexity, or cost
  • storage for a Honda 2200W generator and fuel
  • foldable stairs for the habitat box entry with a slide out platform
  • cab to habitat box crawl through passage
  • raised bench seats with dining table for 3 to 4 that can be converted into a twin bed
  • LTE cellular booster
  • Starlink mobile internet
  • mobile audio sound system in habitat box
  • security security cameras
  • sentry lockbox
  • storage box above the truck cab
  • tow hitch receiver for up to 7,500 lb of towing capacity
  • 3/4" ratchet torque wrench for spare wheel changing
  • dual stage bottle jack
  • spare wheel carrier with manual winch
  • built in 12Vdc air compressor with tank
  • storage capacity for the essential tools and self-recovery equipment
  • storage for a small chain saw, hand saw, and axe
  • storage for a small propane or a Snow Peak wood grill
  • 270-degree awning
  • double the diesel fuel tank capacity of existing 33 gallons
  • citizen band radio
  • overlander GPS navigation aid
  • improved sound system in the rather spartan cab
  • outside propane hookup for outdoor cooking and grilling
  • the best utilization of the garage TBD as I want to leave it for flexible uses
 
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SkiFreak

Crazy Person
Wow! That's a pretty big wish list.
Did you buy the Fuso TARDIS model, so that you can fit everything in? ;)

Just be mindful that the front axle does not have a large load capacity. That, plus if you put a box on the roof rack you may have issues tilting the cab.

Some other things that are not on your list...
  • Changing out the OEM seats, which is something else you may wish to consider.
  • Sound deadening of the cab, which is a very worthwhile modification.
  • An engine driven air compressor. This would likely give you higher CFM and you wouldn't lose space in the camper area.
  • You may wish to consider an AC pump for getting water from a creek. Less problems with voltage drop over a distance.
    You didn't mention it, but I assume you will be getting a decent sized inverter.
  • UV water filtration is brilliant, but depending on the terrain you plan to travel on, it may not be robust enough.
  • Solid surface benchtops are also nice, but they are not what could be considered light.
    It sounds like you will be putting a lot of pretty heavy stuff in this truck, so weigh might end up being an issue, if you are not careful.
I assume that the model you have is an auto with no low range. If so, you should be trying to make the truck as light as possible.
Not really wanting to put a downer on your new purchase, but that 3.0L engine does not have a very good history in the reliability department, so stressing it as little as possible is probably prudent.

Out of interest... what were your axle weights?
 

samurai driver

New member
Nice, hope it works out well for you.

Check engine light, eh? Yeah...I'm familiar with FUSO CEL. Nothing like the old instrument cluster Christmas tree going off.
It threw a yellow check engine light just when the going was at the worse during the early winter blizzard pulling hills with 50 mph headwind as it decided to start DPF regen and ran out of DEF in the middle of nowhere. Without the owner manual and no experience with the truck I was really worry about being stranded on the Interstate. Luckily I found a small gas station to fuel up and replenished the DEF. Only many days later I would read up on the various meanings of check engine and the enforced limp modes. In retrospect, knowing what I know now, I would have stop and initiate a parked regen.

The rig threw a dreaded red check engine light during a short drive at near home and went into limp mode. It refused my attempt to initiate a parked regen. A long story short I got that figured out.
 

samurai driver

New member
Wow! That's a pretty big wish list.
Did you buy the Fuso TARDIS model, so that you can fit everything in? ;)

Just be mindful that the front axle does not have a large load capacity. That, plus if you put a box on the roof rack you may have issues tilting the cab.

Some other things that are not on your list...
  • Changing out the OEM seats, which is something else you may wish to consider.
  • Sound deadening of the cab, which is a very worthwhile modification.
  • An engine driven air compressor. This would likely give you higher CFM and you wouldn't lose space in the camper area.
  • You may wish to consider an AC pump for getting water from a creek. Less problems with voltage drop over a distance.
    You didn't mention it, but I assume you will be getting a decent sized inverter.
  • UV water filtration is brilliant, but depending on the terrain you plan to travel on, it may not be robust enough.
  • Solid surface benchtops are also nice, but they are not what could be considered light.
    It sounds like you will be putting a lot of pretty heavy stuff in this truck, so weigh might end up being an issue, if you are not careful.
I assume that the model you have is an auto with no low range. If so, you should be trying to make the truck as light as possible.
Not really wanting to put a downer on your new purchase, but that 3.0L engine does not have a very good history in the reliability department, so stressing it as little as possible is probably prudent.

Out of interest... what were your axle weights?
I take your tongue in cheek remark about Fuso TARDIS model to heart. I know it is very easy to get carried away with one's wishlist. I been watching too many videos on Germany Television with German built EVs on Eurocargo and Arocs.

Before I get too far I need to start a spreadsheet of this list with weights.

I decided against seats upgrade for now for reason of weight and the difficulty associate with it. The seats are like new so they are actually quite comfortable except the bouncy ride.

I think your idea of sound deadening will add about the same weight as my cargo box on the roof rack. I do have to be mindful with the added weight of the cab crawl through.

I never thought of engine driven air compressor. Is there a ready drop in kit?

I like you point about AC water pump to pull water from streams.

I plan to use the thin solid surface kitchen countertop. I figure the weight difference against Formica faced plywood will be in the vicinity of 20 lb max.

I own a Westfalia James Cook and a Westfalia Vanagon camper which exemplify how a balanced and well scaled camper design is. Even in a small package you can have rich features without turning it into a typical US RV monsters.

The axle weights are 4960 F/ 4220 R in lb as is. Here is the vehicle spec which I will derate the rear capacity because of the super single conversion.

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BigSkyBrad

Active member
@samurai driver - If you can, place your water tank/s as closee as you can to the rear axle line. Mine are just forward of halfway between the front and rear axles, and consequently we only have 300kg reserve on the 2800kg front axle. While up that end of the truck, we removed the OEM seats and put in two light racing style seats on Grammer MGS85 suspension seat bases, and now it takes a lot more effort to raise the cab - I'd hate to think what a roof rack would add to that. I don't have big floaty 37s, so suspension seats were a priority to save our spines.

All up we are at 5500kg wet, on tour. The back axle was down rated to 3900kg for single rear wheels with minimum 131-load rated tyres (2800kg front + 3900kg rear = 6700kg, which maintains the OEM GVW of 6500kg). I like the buffer of 1000kg, so that we aren't constantly running close to fouling the law, and we can add a little extra lard at a later date with peace of mind.

Looking at your list, there's plenty of similarities to our truck. Just the fresh water tank + grey water tank, and the extra fuel tank you quote will add 700kg to start with. You could argue that the grey water tank won't be full if the fresh one is, but ******** happens - desperate for fresh water, you fill up when you can find it, but you haven't had the opportunity to discharge the grey yet, and you get pulled into a weigh-station! Having a full cassette is over 15kg - and we carry a spare, which can end up full as well.

Do you need propane water heating when you already have diesel-hydronic through a calorifier that's also heat-exchanged by the engine? If the calorier has an electric immersion element built in, the inverter can heat it as the second redundancy. You could halve the weight of propane as it would only be for cooking. Personally, I hate the idea of sleeping with a bomb onboard, and reluctantly only used propane for the hob only, because an induction hob needs a bigger inverter and battery bank.

I wouldn't worry too much about the galley worktop - once you've cut big holes for the sink and hob, the weight drastically drops.

The extra freezer (and the weight of it's contents!), plus the generator will also add weight. You are already at 4100kg with a bare box. Your US spec sheet says your GVW is 6373kg, so you're down 127kg from me already.

Hey, at the end of the day, my ramblings above are only for you to second-guess a few points. Enjoy your build process, it's a very rewarding thing - you get a cool truck at the end of it to travel (some of) the world with.
 

samurai driver

New member
When I first tilt the cab, I was pleasantly surprised, despite the one-off custom roof rack and more light than the Eiffel Tower at night, it still is quite balanced and not hard to tilt. Here are some photos test fitting the Thule hitch-mount cargo box that I repurpose as roof top carrier. Empty weight is 43 lb as is. One reason I chose this box is to improve the highway aerodynamic of the rig as well as a light weight carrier for light items like rain gear/boots.

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the redundant lighting would be stripped off to save a couple of pounds

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I do have to step onto the bumper to reach the locking latch
 

samurai driver

New member
I appreciate you guys bringing up the subject of weight. While I know water and fuel are some of the heaviest thing for a rig, it is all too easy to lose sight and over-provision. I thought that I was careful on not to go whole hog on water or fuel capacity compared to many other builds. My bed will weight next to nothing, and given the existing constraints, I am leaning towards a full bed only to keep things in harmony.

There are intelligent design that can reduce weights in other area. One is to minimize the number of partitions and doors on the cabinetry. Failing that you can alway start throwing money at it by going all composite. :oops: A carbon fiber race seat is just 5 lb. :LOL:

Being a serious cook, propane burners is not a negotiable decision. I would trade off hydronic heat with diesel air heater if I must. Propane also serves as a great energy alternate should the diesel heater fails (and they do and complex to deal with in the middle of nowhere).

I am going to start a spreadsheet tracking all the component and fuel weights.
 

samurai driver

New member
Generally I prefer the rigid solar panels. On high end German EVs I've seen they use the quality flexible kind for better aerodynamic as well as weight reasons. I am very far from making that decision. The awning is sure one dispensable item, and I can reduce weight on the insect door screen. The mini washer is a novelty which I can do without, should push comes to shove.

Here are more of the components that I have procured, as US is one of the worst countries to find quality camper products. I grab them as I found them as they can disappear anytime, especially good European products.

This gorgeous Italian made marine three hobs cooker was my first choice and I ordered one from Germany only to have the merchant reneged to ship to US.

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I bought this long NLA European Dometic instead; it weighs in at about 50.5 lb

I also procured this very overpriced Isotherm fridge/freezer as all other alternates are butt ugly, or too small in the freezer department. Despite the challenging constraints of the habitat box floor plan I have two alternate locations for it.

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thankfully it does not have the drawer style freezer

Isotherm-Cruise-195-Black-combi-refrigerator-freezer-dimensions.jpeg

the fridge and freezer have their own Sepcor/Danfoss compressor

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I ordered this Daewoo mini washer from Australia as it is the only place I could procure one. It is 230V/50Hz, but I gamble due to the inverter design it should have no problem feeding it 60Hz. All I need is a properly sized step up transformer.

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stepping up from 120V to 230V

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bench test setup in the shop

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BigSkyBrad

Active member
We have the same Daewoo washer-dryer, but got ours via the Netherlands. The washer side of it is great, use it several times a week, only 28 litres of water each load. However, the dryer side of it is very water and power hungry - it has a water-cooled condenser. If I had my time again, I'd get their washer-only version.
 

samurai driver

New member
We have the same Daewoo washer-dryer, but got ours via the Netherlands. The washer side of it is great, use it several times a week, only 28 litres of water each load. However, the dryer side of it is very water and power hungry - it has a water-cooled condenser. If I had my time again, I'd get their washer-only version.
Yes. I am quite disappointed at the dryer design. It uses water to cool the condensing dryer design is idiotic, but I do understand in a one room apartment heat is more a concern than water usage, while we are the opposite as water is the most precious resource. I plan to use only quick wash and air dry with the retractable clothes line I listed.

My box is Plus size. ;)

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SkiFreak

Crazy Person
Sorry... I have to laugh every time I here someone mention aerodynamics and a Fuso Canter in the same sentence.
The Fuso is a brick and will always be a brick. That box design may actually catch more air than it deflects, and it may also add significantly to the noise levels in the cab (which are normally quite high already).
Speaking of the box... I don't know what the rules are in the US, but in Australia it is illegal to have red lights/reflectors at the front of a vehicle. You might want to check into that and deal with it accordingly.

I have a 10 CFM (theoretically) engine driven air compressor on my FG84 (nearly the same as the FG140). That was a custom build that was done by ATW, and is based off a standard Sanden AC compressor.
There is a company here in Australia that does a similar setup commercially and I am guessing that they would have all the brackets to suit your model of truck, as the FGB71 is our version of the same model, and there are quite a few of them here. The company is called Endless Air. Just google them.
If you are any good at fabricating, you could knock up one of these setups pretty easily, as the mods to the compressor are very straight forward and the mounting brackets are not really a complicated design. There are numerous sites out there on the interwebs that describe how to modify these AC compressors for use as an air compressor. Definitely a cheaper option to do it yourself, if you are into that kind of thing.

For full disclosure, I have a passthru in my camper, but if I am honest, if I did not actually "need" one, I would not have one.
There are definitely some positives to having a passthru, but in my opinion, there are far more negatives. Firstly, you lose a wall, so your layout options in the camper can be far more limited. You have to deal with additional insulation and noise issues, plus it decreases the security of the camper, even if you use some form of door on the passthru. The passthru also has to be detachable, if you still want to be able to tilt the cab, which adds another level of complexity, as you don't want it leaking either.

At the end of the day, it's your camper and you will know what you want out of it, so other people's opinions do not really matter all that much.
However, if you are willing to learn from other people's personal experiences, you can potentially be convinced to change you mind on some aspect of a build.
Or.... if you are like me, pig headed, you'll do it your own way just to prove a point. :)
 

samurai driver

New member
Sorry... I have to laugh every time I here someone mention aerodynamics and a Fuso Canter in the same sentence.
The Fuso is a brick and will always be a brick. That box design may actually catch more air than it deflects, and it may also add significantly to the noise levels in the cab (which are normally quite high already).
Speaking of the box... I don't know what the rules are in the US, but in Australia it is illegal to have red lights/reflectors at the front of a vehicle. You might want to check into that and deal with it accordingly.

I have a 10 CFM (theoretically) engine driven air compressor on my FG84 (nearly the same as the FG140). That was a custom build that was done by ATW, and is based off a standard Sanden AC compressor.
There is a company here in Australia that does a similar setup commercially and I am guessing that they would have all the brackets to suit your model of truck, as the FGB71 is our version of the same model, and there are quite a few of them here. The company is called Endless Air. Just google them.
If you are any good at fabricating, you could knock up one of these setups pretty easily, as the mods to the compressor are very straight forward and the mounting brackets are not really a complicated design. There are numerous sites out there on the interwebs that describe how to modify these AC compressors for use as an air compressor. Definitely a cheaper option to do it yourself, if you are into that kind of thing.

For full disclosure, I have a passthru in my camper, but if I am honest, if I did not actually "need" one, I would not have one.
There are definitely some positives to having a passthru, but in my opinion, there are far more negatives. Firstly, you lose a wall, so your layout options in the camper can be far more limited. You have to deal with additional insulation and noise issues, plus it decreases the security of the camper, even if you use some form of door on the passthru. The passthru also has to be detachable, if you still want to be able to tilt the cab, which adds another level of complexity, as you don't want it leaking either.

At the end of the day, it's your camper and you will know what you want out of it, so other people's opinions do not really matter all that much.
However, if you are willing to learn from other people's personal experiences, you can potentially be convinced to change you mind on some aspect of a build.
Or.... if you are like me, pig headed, you'll do it your own way just to prove a point. :)
I am quite familiar the typical Sanden compressors used in auto industry. Just didn't think of hacking one for the express purpose. They have a swash plate like mechanism which drives the radially arranged pistons in cyclical sequence. If you know the specific engine well you can find a OEM bracket hard points that is for an optional accessory that your truck does not have.

I am well aware of the legality of vehicle lighting laws in my country. I mentioned I plan to remove the redundant lighting off the cargo carrier, and that including the red turn signals. If you have a roof rack like me, you would want a carrier too as the rack alone is cumbersome to use. It is pointless to debate the aerodynamics on this box truck. Decades ago no one thought of improving the semi tractor trailer, but now they are commonplace. When I tried to examine this box before purchase I could not find a photo taken from the angle to show the lower half. It turned out not as aerodynamic as I expect but I have no way of telling without seeing one in person. I went ahead to order it as it is the best roof box I can expect to find, shorting of a bespoke built one.

We are all aware of the tradeoffs between with and without the crawl through, and it must be designed to be easily detachable to tilt the cab. May be yours is poorly designed and made. :rolleyes:

My box already come with such provision including a well made secured door, and most of the parts to finish it. This box alone cost $70k to make and shipped from German back a few years ago.

The convenience of not having to get out the cab in foul weather, or in questionable neighbor is one major benefit. The second is one doesn't need to set up the habitat entry stairs to call it a night. Not everywhere I park is conducive to set up the stairs and you might find the stairs absconded the next morning. When you travel over interstate highway you can just crawl back there and take a nap without fuss. Don't forget the benefit of occasional stealth camping. The noise and wind increase in the cab can easily be addressed with an intelligent designed lightweight plug.

You should know most who take up these EV projects are no noob but technical with experience and skilled, perhaps way more than you think you are, such as Brad posted above.
 
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